The AFL could be set to introduce a new look for the All-Australian Team in 2022 with rumours swirling two teams may be named.
On Monday the league announced the 44-man squad, an increase from the usual list of 40 players we tend to see each year.
Watch every blockbuster AFL match this weekend Live & Ad-Break Free In-Play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
The league announced the squad had been expanded to recognise all elite performers throughout the season.
But journalist Sam Edmund believes the expansion was done to facilitate two 22-man squads to be named for the first time in league history.
“Few whispers of an All-Australian second team being named on Wed. Not sure if it comes to fruition, but it was discussed among the selection panel. Might be a minority view, but if you’re going to name 44 surely it’s a better option than leaving players on the cutting room floor,” Edmund wrote.
The radical change drew mixed reactions from within the football community. Some suggesting it was equivalent to handing out participation trophies, while others praised the initiative.
Former Richmond superstar Matthew Richardson was firmly against the idea: “No thanks.”
Essendon legend Matthew Lloyd backed up Richardson’s stance: “I liken being named in an all Australian second team to when they used to hand out runners up medallions for losing the grand final. Johnny Barnes turfed his into the crowd in 2001. No thanks.”
Opposing those views was former Adelaide Crows star Josh Jenkins who said the suggestion was similar to how the NBA works with three All-NBA teams named every season.
Some fans believed only naming the best 22 players of the year was the correct formula and made being named an All-Australian all the more worthy.
Zero Digital Sports’ Jake Benoiton wrote: “Surely not? There aren’t 22 players who just missed or were stiff. It’s about rewarding the best in their position every year. And even if you’re stiff to miss out, that’s kind of how it works.”
Journalist Adam Curley wrote: “Absurd idea.”
Multiple people reacting to the news however suggested if the AFL are going to name two teams, they need to force them to face off.
“I vote for naming an A and B team who play an exhibition match the Friday night before the grand final (GF players obviously don’t play). Kinda like the NFL’s Pro Bowl. Would actually make AA selection mean something,” one fan wrote.
The 2022 All-Australian team will be named on Wednesday night. It’s then we’ll find out if it will be one squad, or two.